Undergraduate > Prospective Majors

Exploring the Major

It is best to explore our major as early as possible because, like any science, a sequence of prerequisite course work is needed to move to advanced work in Environmental Sciences. Exploration can begin by taking one or more of our lower division courses (1000–2000 level) or reviewing our advising materials. One lower division course (non-core) can be counted toward the major if it is taken prior to major declaration. Both the B.A. and the B.S. degree require courses in ‘related sciences’ (other science and mathematics classes). Students who anticipate electing the B.S. option are encouraged to begin their coursework in related sciences during the first year.

Much more information about upcoming courses, advising, and careers can be found in the Major’s Newsletter , which is updated every semester prior to advising week. A listing of all Environmental Sciences courses can be found here; course offerings in the upcoming semester can be found here. Our faculty are all interested in talking with students, so please consult any of your course instructors or any of our faculty for advice regarding course selection or other academic issues.

Declaring the Major

The first decision a prospective major needs to make is whether to enroll in the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program. Both degrees provide an excellent basis for post-graduate education. The B.A. also serves as a foundation for graduate work in professional programs such as law, planning, or business. The B.S. is more appropriate for students who anticipate a career as a research scientist, or who suspect they might pursue graduate education in disciplinary fields, environmental engineering, or environmental science positions in the private sector.

The main differences between the two degrees involve the number of credit hours for the major and the required hours of related science and math.

B.A. B.S.
EVSC Credit hours 30 graded credits 40 graded credits
Calculus requirement Math 1190, 1210, or 1310 Math 1310 and 1320 (or 1220)
Related Science Two semesters of biology, chemistry, OR physics with labs One semester each of chemistry, biology AND physics with labs plus two additional math/science courses, one with a lab.
EVSC core courses Atmospheric sciences, ecology, geosciences, and hydrology with labs Atmospheric sciences, ecology, geosciences, and hydrology with labs
Upper-level course with lab None One

How to Declare the Major (B.A. or B.S.) in Environmental Sciences

  1. Pick up the College of Arts and Sciences Declaration of Major Form in Monroe Hall or in the Environmental Sciences administrative office (111 Clark Hall).
  2. Meet with one of the following faculty members.  Below is a list of their contact information and office hours for the Fall, 2016 semester.

    Robert Davis
    386-B New Clark
    924-0579, red3u
    M:  3:00-4:30, W: 10:30-11:30

    Janet Herman*
    212 Clark
    924-0553, jsh5w
    M:  1:00-3:00, W:  2:30-4:00

    Aaron Mills*
    213 Clark
    924-0564, alm7d
    F: 1:00-4:00

    Tom Smith
    342 Clark
    924-3107 tms9a
    W: 12:00-2:30

    *Please email Profs. Herman and Mills in advance to confirm their availability.
  3. Be prepared by filling out the top portion of the Declaration of Major form, bringing your unofficial academic transcript and a semester-by-semester tentative plan to fulfill the requirements of the major.  In consultation with you, you will be assigned an academic advisor in the Environmental Sciences Department.
    Because there is no penalty in the College for changing your major, it is in your best interest to declare our major as early as possible so that can have access to the best possible advising.

Majors Seminar

EVSC 4002 is an undergraduate seminar for current and prospective Environmental Sciences majors. This one-credit seminar introduces the University community to issues, research, and career opportunities in Environmental Sciences. Note that because this is a non-graded course, it does not count toward the major.

Advanced Placement Credit

Three credit hours toward EVSC 1010, Introduction to Environmental Sciences, will be granted for achieving a 4 or 5 on the Environmental Sciences Advanced Placement Course exam.

AP credits may also be applied toward the related math and science requirements. Although the University does not grant laboratory credit for AP courses, the Department waives the lab requirement for courses for which AP credit is granted, based upon review of the syllabus and course materials for the laboratory portion of the course.

Credits from Other Departments or Schools

The Environmental Sciences faculty believes that its four core courses, the mix of Environmental Sciences electives, and the required related work in science and calculus is the minimum preparation needed for a graduate to be a competitive environmental scientist. So that we can be confident that majors have mastered the field, we normally require that all of the courses applied toward the major (or minor) be taught by University of Virginia Environmental Sciences faculty.

Recognizing that the major represents a minimum requirement, most of our majors take many more courses in Environmental Sciences. Some of our majors do additional course work both at other U.S. academic institutions and abroad. If we can determine that these courses are substantively similar to courses taught by our faculty, credit toward the major may be granted. That decision is made on a case-by-case basis by the Undergraduate Academic Review Committee (UGARC). All appeals for transfer credits must be approved in advance, prior to the start of classes.

For questions related to domestic or international transfer credits, please contact Bob Davis (


The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at

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